Fang’s ashes have not returned from the crematorium after a week. The vet’s office says sometimes it takes awhile. That’s okay, though. What with the weather we can’t exactly take a box of dusty pussycat out to my sister’s backyard, dig a hole and ignore the mudslides. The delay, I think, works in our favor, Ned’s and mine. We’re certainly going to cry our eyes out at kitty graveside one of these afternoons. Might as well be a sunny day!
I may need a new black dress and Sunday-go-ta-meetin’ shitkickers.
Last night, Siobhan and I set out in the torrential rain to size up yet another appliance store. This hunting and gathering process has convinced me every extended family needs at least one retired member to whom all power of comparison shopping is delegated. This ambassador to agrees to:
1. Scope the circulars as they are published;
2. Familiarize him- or herself with consumer outlets within a fifty-mile radius;
3. Listen carefully to the shopping needs of the family.
4. Conduct personalized research, including making excursions to small businesses and opening negotiations on behalf of the family and individual members;
5. Bargaining salespersons into submission.
It is a delicate and time-consuming business to negotiate with a retailer for my washing machine, Daria’s deep freezer, Todd’s My Little Convection Oven, Anya’s stand mixer, Corinne’s husband swatter, Dara’s ground-penetrating radar, Auntie In Excelsis Deo’s sheet metal quilter, Grandpa’s GPS and Miss Sasha’s in-ground mother-in-law minder. Mom seems very busy despite her curious lack of gainful employment and works on her own very peculiar conception of time, which does not really synchronize with any other human’s. I want Tom to retire and become the family’s ambassador to appliance-selling America. With extreme prejudice. Since he’s selfishly continuing to teach high school and not thinking at all about what’s truly important – my needs – Siobhan and I donned our wetsuits, jumped in her Ford Excoriator and shoved off.
Our first stop was closed for Yom Kippur. We decided there was little risk of Yom Kippur sales at the potentially Teutonic Kohl’s so we sailed in and out of the jughandles of Route 18 and docked near an exit. We were searching for an inexpensive microwave but discovered Kohl’s extensive collection of ridiculous kitchen appliances did not include what I needed. I mean, who really needs a S’Mores Maker? Can you say you need that? How about a quesadilla machine? Did you know your frying pan works just as well and you already have that?
As I whined to Siobhan, Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, has taken to clawing the couch. It’s not a lovely couch and it was already secondhand when Daria gave it to me. Still. It’s a couch we sit on, and I object. Siobhan suggested we sail over to PetSmart, which we did. Thirty feet down the center aisle, I found a puppy. These words do not do justice to the heart-stopping happiness that is meeting puppies because puppies are the kings of enthusiasm and when you meet them they lick your face and jump and jump and jump and clicketty clicketty clicketty and bonk you on the chin and wag wag wag wag and you go “Ttttthhhhhhhwpppttt!” and you are very very very happy. Siobhan does not love dogs and disappeared around a corner while I squeezed my new four-legged best friend on a leash held by someone I’ll never see again. Five minutes later, I made a new best friend on a leash held by a little girl who wanted her puppy to wear costumes. Then I met another enthusiastic puppy friend. By now, I’m lugging a 14-lb. tub of cat litter and a cardboard scratching whatsis for the other team and we’re at the register surrounded by doggy happiness. A woman walks in with a miniature Yeti dangling passively over one arm.
Tata: Siobhan! What’s that?
Siobhan: It’s a dog.
Tata: Are you sure? Which end is up?
Siobhan: The one that’s not wagging.
So apparently we’d wandered in on puppy training night. Now, if you have to leave a store in an epic downpour, you might be better off if your merchandise is not specifically designed to be absorbent. It’s just a thought! Siobhan looks at the stuff I’m carrying, sighs and says, “I’ll go get the truck.”
A funny thing happens when I am happy and alone for a few minutes: I forget I am a middle-aged woman with credit cards and a day job. I forget I’m arthritic and prone to depression. I forget people can see me. When Siobhan pulls the truck around, I am half-way inside the waterproof doghouse sitting on the sidewalk. It is SO INTERESTING! It’s clean and I think with a towel or something soft this could be nice for an outdoor dog –
Siobhan honks. I…oh, look at me. I get up, grab the tub of cat litter and wade out to the truck. You will not be surprised, I think, to hear that Larry, the little black cat bent on stealing your soul, shows no interest whatever in clawing the cardboard.
Larry: Thank you, no.
Tata: But! But! But! I’ll pour fresh catnip on top!
Larry: Aghhh. You’re my besssshhhhhht frien…
Tata: Yes, my dearest. I know.